I used to love professional sports a lot more too. I once yelled "Karl Malone you suck!" at a Suns game. See, I'm a lousy competitor.
The years have definitely calmed me. The only sports I care about now are the ones my daughters participate in, and of course, running. My political awareness has also contributed to my backing off. I can't justify winners and losers. Yes, just making it to the playoffs means something to me. It's hard to equate pro sports (namely the big three: Football, Basketball, Baseball) with any of this because it's all about the marketing and the money and really has nothing to do with sports. It might to the athletes, but going on about that would be an entirely different topic. There is no healthy competition in these games, in my always humble opinion. That's what I've come to believe in. It really is about getting out there, doing your best, being happy if you win, and happy of the effort you put in if you come in second. Or third, etc. Amazing accomplishments happen to everyone, not just the winners.
Then I started to run.
I've been running over two years now, and that has definitely sparked my competitive side again. However, it's personal. Sure, at the beginning I couldn't figure out why I can't run as fast as my friend Kimber- but wanting to get there pushed me. But I also have the maturity to acknowledge that I'm not her- or any other runner out there. I started to compete against myself. Seeing how far I can push it, seeing what times I can beat. I just keep running, and I love it. It's a personal sport to me, and you can choose to take it on alone or with others. I enjoy the peace it brings me. Well, other than when I am part of a race.
This year I ran my second half-marathon, and unlike last year I had a time goal. Last year I was happy to finish, but now I know I can do it. So I wanted to shave about 5 minutes off my time from last year, and run it in a 2:45. Training this year was amazing- I was so much more relaxed, and really found my stride. I surprised myself endlessly, and as the day approached I was more and more excited! Had some back problems the Friday before, but managed to work them out and by Sunday morning I was feeling fantastic. Ready to go.
It began perfectly. Was right on pace for the 5k, and at the 10k mark I was even a bit ahead of my intended pace. My training was paying off. I was so happy, and at the drinking station right before mile 8 I took a big swig, then sped up a little. I knew I had friends waiting at a coffee house up the road, and it motivated me.
Whoops. I think that's what did me in. Rookie mistake. Swig some water, then run faster, sloshing around all you just took in. I was waving and smiling at my friends as I ran by (and I was SO happy to see them- it's the perfect mile for a boost), but the whole time I was thinking "don't throw up don't throw up don't throw up". Had to start walking after passing them because I needed to get control over myself. I was moving off to the side ready to look for a semi-private place to hurl in. But I didn't, and was able to get to a jog again.
I think that killed the rest of the course for me. By mile 10 I was at last year's pace, and ended up finishing 3 minutes slower than last year.
Three minutes SLOWER?! It was high school all over again. I know, I know... I still finished. I didn't quit. No sane person willingly gives people money so they can tear up their legs for hours on end. Then come back for more. I devoted 18 weeks of serious training to this- and that takes commitment not many have. Especially when it involves possible leg problems, loss of toenails, and possibly throwing up on the side of the road. Who does that?
I do. And although I didn't beat my personal best, it's still there to move me. I've been really lucky as a runner. No knee problems, worked through shin splints. Other than my back and nerve issues, I've never had a serious injury stop me. I was meant to run.
I'll earn that 2:45 one of these races, but it won't be next year. Now I'm moving on to the next project, a full marathon, which is my big "run a marathon when I'm 40" goal. Hey- it will be a break! After all, I've never run one before. Therefore, I just have to finish!
Congrats to my friends Kimber and Jill- their first time running a half and they kicked ass!